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A couple months ago Instagram announced that it would be hiding likes for select users. The idea here was to help “improve mental health,” Instagram's CEO Adam Mosseri stated.

And at first I thought: okay, that sounds pretty good.

But the longer I thought about it, the worse I felt about it. In the past year or so I've talked to hundreds of influencers and bloggers and the general sentiment from most is that their content isn't being seen by most. I think Instagram is trending toward the Facebook approach, which means less reach, forcing you to pay to be seen by your own audience.

I think that removing likes is a clear signal we are moving in that direction.

One of my first thoughts is that brands can't see these likes, which is an initial factor for why they might work with someone. To me, just looking at follower count isn't enough.

As someone who's been in marketing and social media for the past 8 years, along with running my own social accounts, I think this isn't the best. I decided to share my thoughts and also have some other experts in the influencer industry weigh in to tell me theirs.

First, what does Instagram hiding/removing likes entail?

Basically it will mean that other users, including your followers will not be able to see your like count. You'll still be able to see it.

Personally, I've found that brands recently request screenshots often to work with you. And one of my favorite factors they ask for is Instagram Story analytics. I think this speaks volumes on how people are interacting with your profile.

Why do we care about likes?

Well, Instagram remains the top platform for influencer marketing in the US, according to January 2019 polling from influencer agency Mediakix. Almost 80% of US marketers said that Instagram posts were among the most effective formats for influencer content. That means Instagram is extremely important. And I find it's a great way to drive people to my blog.

I was recently interviewed by Business Insider about being a verified account on Instagram and what that meant not only for my Instagram engagement, but for brand deals.

The general sentiment? I'm glad to be verified, but it didn't mean huge changes. Although I do have better negotiating power when working with brands.

I pay close attention to my account and my analytics. I use (and recommend) an Instagram Creator account and think it gives the most accurate details and insights into what's happening in my accounts. One thing I am noticing is that story views are going up while my Instagram posts are staying about the same.

Now I have three experts that will share their thoughts which I found so interesting. Everyone comes from different backgrounds (and from places around the wold) and came to different conclusions.

Christine, a travel blogger from the blog, Live Love Run Travel and @liveloveruntravel, has grown significantly over the past few years. She uses organic engagement to grow her following and her blog in a major way. She had this to say:

“It seems like all I see on Instagram or in Facebook groups is people talking about how their likes are down. If your likes aren’t where you want them to be, then what is the harm in them going away?

Once they do go away, the number of likes may drop even further. People may be less likely to like photos when no one can see it.

All this does is make it more important to provide value. Value comes in all shapes and forms: tips, humor, inspiration, relatability, etc. If you provide value, people are more likely to save the photo or comment on it (or like it anyways). Build a community that supports you and comes back again and again to see more from you. Provide them with value and you will be just fine with or without likes.”

Nicola of All About Rosalilla, on Instagram @all_about_rosalilla, grew her engaged Instagram over the past couple years and uses her imagery and voice to have a strong rapport with her audience. Here's what she said:

“I only see Instagram removing likes as a good thing. It takes the pressure off number watching and instead allows you to focus more on showing the things you love. It downplays the importance users place on receiving validation for their content and instead shifts the focus to the content they create.

On a social media platform like Instagram this can only be a good thing for mental health. When I hit around 10,000 followers on Instagram I too felt the pressure of numbers and likes. I was upset that other people on Instagram were getting more likes on their photos than I was without considering all the differing factors between accounts, such as geographical location and audience. It made me feel inadequate and that my account wasn’t good enough when that wasn’t the case at all. The account that I initially felt so proud of now wasn’t good enough in my eyes and that was WRONG!

Now, I just post what makes me happy and the things I love to share. I don’t really focus on numbers any more and I’m happy that Instagram has removed the visibility of likes. I have no interest in having followers for the sake of followers. I’m much happier building an engaged audience and a community of people with similar interests. It makes for a more heartfelt and genuine Instagram experience.”

Rachelle of The Travel Bite, Instagram @thetravelbite, is a staple in the travel industry and she writes about food as well as travel and she's been a featured speaker, and even a TV host. She has great insight into the industry and said this:

“As far as removing likes… I think “likes” have gone down from it. Basic psychology that people want to “like” what others are liking and what’s trending. Also, most people are too busy to stop scrolling and comment.

Ever since they expanded their testing of removing likes from being seen, my likes are dismal.

If we pay to boost posts for more likes, but likes are not seen, then it makes me wonder what we’re paying for.”

It's interesting how varied the responses have been!

Bottom line: I don't think we should let likes define us but I also think they are a good indicator for brands and businesses. My worry is that engagement will decrease if Instagram hides likes.

What do you think about Instagram removing likes?

I'm hosting a FREE workshop on growing your Instagram audience! I think it's especially important in light of everything happening right now.

The workshop is intended to show you how to create authentic engagement, grow your following, share your story and create a community.

Come join! Sign up below:

Free Workshop: Secrets to a Successful Instagram

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